A new Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference baseball rule this season has all league doubleheaders featuring one game going longer than seven innings.
Ashland University and Malone went above and beyond the new GLIAC edict on Saturday (April 25) in Canton, not being able to settle Game 2 until playing 18 innings. The Eagles prevailed in the near-five-hour nightcap, 6-2, after falling in Game 1, 5-0.
The Eagles, ranked No. 21 in Division II, are 28-12 overall, 17-7 in the GLIAC and 13-3 in the GLIAC South Division – clinching the conference's first-ever South Division title. The Pioneers are 24-18/15-11/10-8.
The second-game marathon featured a 2-1 Eagle lead going into the bottom of the ninth, but a single Pioneer run led to another nine frames. In the top of the 18th, senior shortstop Austin Walts hit an RBI single to break the tie, and AU added three more runs for good measure.
Freshman pitcher Luke Smith earned the win in relief to go to 4-1, pitching 2 1/3 innings of hitless relief. Sophomore pitcher Brandyn Sittinger began the game, going seven innings and allowing four hits, one run and three walks while striking out seven. Junior Alex Smith pitched 8 2/3 innings, yielding nine hits, a run and three walks and whiffing six.
In Game 1, the Eagles managed just seven hits – two each from senior second baseman Stephen James, junior third baseman Blake Bellman and junior first baseman Mike Lewandowski. Junior pitcher Jake Baldwin (7-1) suffered just his second collegiate loss, giving up eight hits, five runs (three earned) and three walks while striking out four in 5 2/3 innings.
Ashland and Malone, after having played 25 innings on Saturday, will turn around and play another doubleheader on Sunday (April 26) at Thurman Munson Stadium.